For the second consecutive season, the “Afghanimals” Jamal Zadran and Leo Temory finished in fourth place and were cut just before the finale as they became the eighth team eliminated from The Amazing Race All-Stars. I caught up with them at the finale party we organized in Las Vegas to find out what went wrong.
Murtz Jaffer: So guys, tell me what went wrong?
Jamal Zadran: What didn’t go wrong? We basically had wrong directions from London. It was just our luck. Getting pointed in the wrong direction for 15 minutes and then realizing from another person that that was the wrong direction and then we had to backtrack 30 minutes. That is what killed us right there. We lost by 25 minutes.
Leo Temory: What sucks is that we were actually three or four hours ahead of everyone but then we had to wait for the field to open at 8 AM. Up until that point, we were phenomenal. We got to London, to Liverpool, really fast. Other teams that we were on earlier flights didn’t even get there. We slept in the hostel. We ate. We explored a little and then everyone started flowing in. Even in the morning, our directions to the stadium were phenomenal. We finished the whole task before anyone else even got there and then after that it was all downhill.
MJ: Is it bittersweet? The fact that you finished fourth last season and you come back only to finish in fourth place again? Is there solace in having such a high-place finish or is it more like ‘oh my god… not again!’?
JZ: It’s really tough to take fourth place two years in a row. It’s a great accomplishment to have finished 22 out of 24 legs but just to know that you are one step away from the finale with the possibility of winning $1 million… that’s hard to swallow. In any season, I would rather go out first or second and not deal with ‘would have, could have, should have,’ then go out fourth two seasons in a row.
LT: And it sucks that it was just directions. It was so ironic that our directions were so on point the previous four legs. Other teams were following us! What kept us in the game was our ability to usually get great directions. In Orvieto, we were tied for last and then we passed three teams. It sucks that we finished in the same position as last time but you know, fourth on Amazing Race All-Stars… we’ll take it.
MJ: Can you talk a little bit about the ‘Accidental Alliance?’ I feel like it was never really an alliance for you guys like it was for Dave and Connor and the country singers. I almost felt like it was a Survivor mentality where if somebody offers you an alliance, you just say yes (whether you mean it or not).
JZ: For us, coming from Season 23, we knew what it was like being on the outside of an alliance pack so Leo & I tried to avoid being the targeted team. We were not going to further their agendas as far as U-Turning whoever they wanted, but we wanted to U-Turn the strongest team and for us, that was the Cowboys.
MJ: What was the backlash like when you U-Turned the Cowboys (from the other teams in your alliance)?
LT: That’s a good question. Honestly, we didn’t hear much from the other teams. Our whole intention was to get the Accidental Alliance to the Final 3 and to know that Caroline and Jen made it through, they were happy, Dave and Connor were happy that we were still in… the reason behind it was really Jamal and his knee. It was a strategic move. We had to. Our actions proved to be right, as Jamal said, with Rachel and Brendon messing up on the next leg so it was a good decision.
MJ: Did it really just come down to your knee? Do you look back and say ‘if that didn’t happen… we might have won…”?
JZ: If my knee didn’t mess up, we are looking at who can outsprint us if it comes down to a challenge and the only team was probably the Cowboys. My knee? No excuses. My knee didn’t cause us to get bad directions. That was just our luck of the draw. I ended up finding out that it was MCL Grade 2 sprain and I am still going through physical therapy right now for it. That’s something that you can’t change.
LT: If that didn’t happen, we were neck and neck with Dave and Connor for that leg. We would have been in first because we could have easily outsprinted them. It just shows you. We walked for the entire rest of the leg. Not even walked…we limped. Brendon and Rachel (who were on another flight) passed us. If we had won that leg, imagine what our mojo would have been like heading into the next leg.
MJ: There was a theory that said that this was Dave and Connor’s season to win. Did you feel that way while you were racing? From the beginning, I felt like they were the team that everybody was picking to win. The challenges didn’t seem as physical as they have been in previous Races. It just seemed like they were geared to make sure Dave had an equal chance to do them. Did you get that sense?
JZ: I think that the challenge this time were much harder than last season. It was actually more physically challenging. There was the white-water rafting in Malaysia, the Bull Run, It was more physical this time around than it was the last season. I don’t know if it was catered to any one team in particular. It was more of a fair shot across the board. On the Race, it is just the luck of the draw. Who does the detours right, who picks the right roadblocks…
LT: Dave and Connor, the Cowboys and us we were neck and neck.
MJ: Was the competition tougher this time or the last time you did it?
JZ: The competition was definitely tougher this time around. Just because all the teams know what it takes to play for a second or third time. It was much tougher now. There were no teams that you could take lightly or assume that you could beat them.
LT: Every team had the same skill level. The second episode, there were seven teams on the mat. Unheard of. That’s never happened. The next day was the same thing. The first time around, there was a much bigger spread. Everyone was competitive. You didn’t know who was going to come out and win. It was tough, but it was fun. The experience of a lifetime… again.
MJ: And finally, what’s next for you? Are you going to try and join all these other teams who raced for a third time?
JZ: It all depends on The Amazing Race and if there is a third time. If our lives are ready for us to do it for a third time. If there are no babies on the way… I got married. Let’s see where our lives are at. We could be doing something totally different. Keep our fingers crossed.
LT: This isn’t the last you have seen of the Afghanimals. Hopefully you see us again.
Tags: murtz, Murtz Jaffer, The Amazing Race